Titan Outpost Review
All is not well on Titan. After crash landing on the moon, your astronaut finds themselves in a half-finished base with a missing partner. And that’s just the beginning of your character’s problems. Titan Outpost has got to be one of the more original RPGs I have played. It is set in a near future hard Sci-fi setting. The game has no combat, but it’s not a narrative RPG or a visual novel. What starts as a mission to survive in the harsh environment of one of Saturn’s moons turns into a game about trying to navigate between competing interests, solving mysteries, building up your base, and exploring Titan’s surface.
Story and Atmosphere
Your astronaut works for the I.A.S.A., an international space corporation. You’ve come to Titan to mine methane, an important source of energy for a future Earth depleted of mineral resources. But things go wrong from the beginning. You wake up inside Titan Outpost without knowing how you got there. The base computer informs you that you survived a crash landing. Also, your partner, who should have joined you, is missing. The base which should be your mining operation headquarters is mysteriously half finished. The biggest problems, though, are that the reactor doesn’t have enough energy to run all of the base’s systems and there is barely enough to eat. With the help of your base computer and the two employees who work on the I.A.S.A. space station orbiting the moon you get the first hints of how to get out of this mess while at the same time mining enough methane to satisfy your employer
The story of Titan Outpost is mainly told by interacting with characters. At first that’s your base A.I. as well as Karl and Karen, the two I.A.S.A. employees working on the space station orbiting Titan. But as the game progresses, more people will come into contact you. Most of them come with a gift in hand, but that’s because most of them want something from you. Rutger Van Hoorn, for example, wants you to give him a cut of the methane you are mining, while Hershel Jürgens wants you to help him build a supercomputer to aid his research of Titan. Even the I.A.S.A employees have their own agendas. While Karen is a do it by the book company woman, Karl is much more skeptical of your employers and wants you to get to the bottom of what caused your crash landing and where your partner has disappeared to.
While Titan Outpost is a meager budget indie game, all of its characters are voiced acted. Unlike many indie games, Titan Outpost doesn’t do a half-assed job with its voice actors. Every character involved is at least competently voice acted, and that helps flesh them out. While there aren’t a massive number of characters in Titan Outpost, most of them play fairly important roles. Hershel Jürgen, for example doesn’t only pay you to build a supercomputer and divert part of your base’s power to it. He also gives you quests to survey various locations across the moon and offers to sell you valuable research.
Titan Outpost’s story unwinds gradually though. Normally you learn new things by completing quests, visiting new locations, or meeting new people, but this is only a small part of the gameplay. You will have to make important decisions in Titan Outpost, nevertheless. The characters in the game often have competing interests and by helping the goals of some of them, you hinder the goals of others. This can result in ending the game in different ways.
Titan Outpost presents a near future scenario and you really get the feel of being an astronaut on a hostile, but mysterious world. In addition, the game does a good job of balancing the need to survive, on an unfriendly world, the struggle between the various companies and powers seeking to exploit Titan, and the desire to explore the moon and its peculiarities.
In Titan Outpost you have a character sheet with 4 attributes (strength, charisma, intelligence and awareness) and 6 skills. Like in many RPGs, while attributes are static, skills can be improved over time. Our character starts with 3 skill points (though a higher intelligence can yield extra points) and gains 1 more each level up. Titan Outpost’s skills are all useful and can be roughly divided into those that are more directly quest related (hacking and negotiation) and those that are more important to the game’s base mechanics (logistics, construction, research, and exploration).
With higher hacking and negotiation you often gain alternative and much easier ways to solve the various tasks that npcs want your help with.
Logistics influences how quickly you can mine methane. As the game proceeds, your employer, the I.S.F., demands increasing amounts. Delivering enough will keep you out of trouble and higher logistics also means not having to waste your precious time on methane mining, where you say could be constructing or researching.
Construction allows you to build things you will not only need to survive on Titan, but also to carry out certain exploration tasks and solve certain quests. Being better at constructing things decreases the time required to make things in and outside of your base.
Research allows you to try to find out how to do new things. At the beginning of the game this is largely to improve your incomplete base, but later you can discover things based on what you find exploring Titan. While when constructing something you always know how many resources you will need and what the end product will be, research is purposely vague often only giving hints at what successful research might yield.
Having so few skills and skill points in Titan Outpost works well, because each skill is very useful, if not critical to getting things done, and because each invested skill point make an immediately noticeable jump in your character’s effectiveness. Take exploration for example. When your astronaut is walking around you will reach points on interest. In most cases you have 4 possibilities of what you might find depending on if your astronaut has 0, 1, 2, or 4 points in exploration. My astronaut had 1 point and regularly found small caches of minerals (and rarely polymers) which are the 2 building blocks for constructing most everything you need for in and outside your base.
Like skills and attributes, you also have a small number of perks to choose from in Titan Outpost. And like everything else in the game they tend to have important gameplay effects. Being able to understand Chinese or medicine can help you solve quests. Being able to tolerate the cold longer will helps you explore further and longer. Being stoic keeps your morale up, which means you will have to spend less time doing leisure activities.
Since there is no combat in Titan Outpost, your character earns experience by completing goals. This can be by solving quests. More often, experience is gained by exploring new areas, constructing objects, or completing research.
Titan Outpost has a number of important resources including plutonium (which increases your base reactor strength), minerals and polymers for building, methane which you mine, and money which earn slowly over time and which you can also get by making side deals with various npcs. But no resource is as important as time. The time you spend on Titan is limited and you will reach an ending on a certain date depending on the choices you made and what you did (or did not) accomplish. And because of your limited skills points and decisions you will have to make which will make some characters happy while angering others, it's simply impossible to accomplish everything in one playthrough. My playthrough clocked in at just under 19 hours.
That having been said, Titan Outpost is a pretty slow-paced game. You have a lot of time before the game ends and you will very rarely be threatened with game ending or even quest ending failure. Walking across the surface of Titan is slow and you can spend a fair amount of time looking at the landscape and exploring before you arrive at your destination. You will also be spending a lot of time talking to npcs and planning what to do at your base, and almost never with any short term pressure. Your time in Titan Outpost is roughly divided into the time you spend at your base and the time you spend exploring Titan.
At the beginning of Titan Outpost your base has just enough energy for life support, heating, and growing barely enough food for you to eat. This is because your reactor is both incomplete and inefficient. To change that you’ll need to do research, construct reactor improvements, and find or acquire extremely expensive plutonium. Early in the game I alternately shut off power to hydroponics, life support, or central heating, just long enough to research or build things. But you have to be careful here, because though there is no combat in Titan Outpost, you can die by freezing, starving, or suffocating. These are actually easily avoidable, but at the beginning of the game these threats act as limits to your other actions.
While you have construction and research stations which carry out your commands so long as they have power, you can spend time at the base on either activity to speed up the process. Also, you’ll need to spend time relaxing to keep up your morale and maintaining your mining droids so they don’t break down. And you can only start new projects and pick up finished constructed goods when you are actually on site. While you start Titan Outpost alone, it is possible to get others to come and help you over the course of the game, but you’ll need enough food so they don’t stave and enough place so they can sleep and relax.
The rest of Titan Outpost is spent exploring the surface of the moon. You’ll be driving around in the rover, a sort of all terrain vehicle. At the start of the game the rover is slow and limited. Like many of these things in the game the rover is upgradable. The rest of the time you’ll be exploring on foot in your suit. You are also severely limited in the beginning by how long your space suit can retain heat. This can also be improved by making it more efficient and constructing batteries.
So, at the beginning your ability to explore is limited and it will cost you a great deal of time to get anywhere. But you need to be outside. First, you’ll need to build methane pumps in the lakes of Titan to fulfill your job duties. And beyond that the majority of Titan Outpost’s quests require that you go places on the moon’s surface. There are also places you can discover on your own and secrets you can unlock providing your skills or attributes are high enough and you have the right equipment in your possession.
Titan Outpost is clearly an indie game. Its models are generic and the visuals in general are primitive. At times the pathfinding also leaves something to be desired. Menus are functional. The writing is decent to good, and the game’s writer certainly has a much better understanding of the natural sciences than I do. The voice acting is also decent, and for an indie game quite good. Still anyone who requires a minimum in visual style and sound will probably want to see if this meets their minimum standards.
I enjoyed my time in Titan Outpost. The game scores big points with me with for its originality, both in terms of its gameplay and its story and atmosphere. But I know Titan Outpost will not be for everyone. There are times I really enjoy low pressure relaxing games like Stardew Valley or Eastshade. But these types of games are certainly not for all gamers and it is not just the lack of combat which makes Titan Outpost slow paced. It is everything from the exploring to building to research. In fact, there were times for me when I felt the game dragged, especially at the game’s end when I had explored most everything and was principally waiting for some quest events to get advanced.
I also appreciated the multiple endings, the gated quests, and the lack of handholding. I certainly would be interested to try out a second playthrough with a good hacking and exploration skill, as my character was weak in those areas and unable to proceed with certain quests. On the other hand, the main thing that makes Titan Outpost so interesting are discovering places, figuring out how to do things, and solving the mysteries in the story. And knowing those things limit replayability at least for me. If you are looking out for a very different RPG, don’t mind slow paced games and aren’t averse to having a character unable to solve every problem, or to a lack of handholding, or a primitive visual presentation, then I’d definitely recommend giving Titan Outpost a go.
Information aboutTitan Outpost
Developer: The Boar Studio
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released: 2019-08-09
· Publisher: The Boar Studio
- Very original setting
- Unusual mix of gameplay
- Multiple endings
- All skills extremely useful
- Interesting story and characters
- Slow pace not for everyone
- Indie visuals
- No combat not for everyone
- Modest game length (just under 20 hours)
- Main quest ends on a timer (but a very long one)